With the end of all restrictions in sight, many of us are now wondering how best to cohabitate with covid. The last few years alone have seen a dramatic rise in the use of vitamins and supplements as we search for ways to fortify our immune systems and give our health and wellness a well-deserved boost. The pandemic has clearly increased awareness of the importance of preventative health measures.
As we enter this next phase, and the realities of living with covid set in, here’s some top advice from John Bell & Croyden Superintendent Pharmacist Reshma Malde on how best to look after your health – and the many ways in which community pharmacies can support you to self-care.
By Reshma Malde
One of the best ways to spot the early signs of disease is through a simple health check.
Now is an important time to look after your health, and pharmacies can often be your first port of call in helping you to catch the early signs of diseases such as diabetes.
The past two years in particular have seen community pharmacies extend their range of testing services, meaning many are now offering more in-depth health checks along with routine tests for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol.
Phlebotomy services offer a more in-depth analysis into a patient’s health and are handy for anyone who has any general health concerns or wants something more specific looking into. This involves taking blood samples from a patient which are analysed in a laboratory. It provides an important tool for diagnosing many medical conditions.
Small lifestyle changes can bring big benefits.
The pandemic has led to a huge spike in mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. It has also increased our focus on self-care.
Ensuring overall health begins by applying a holistic approach to not only diet and nutrition, but also exercise and mindfulness practice. This has huge benefits both for improving mental wellbeing and immunity. There are now copious studies showing that mindfulness practice can give a significant boost to our immune system. It reduces the chances of stress and burn out, both of which can lead to bodily inflammation, making us vulnerable to infection.
Similarly, goals such as reducing alcohol intake, stop smoking and weight loss through increasing exercise and improving diet are all positive steps which can offer many health benefits.
Vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies
There are now more trials and research being done to study the effects of diet on overall immunity along with the benefits of taking Vitamins, supplements, pro & prebiotics to support the microbiome, and whether traditional herbal remedies can protect and improve immunity.
Some researchers have suggested that vitamin D deficiency might be linked with poorer outcomes if someone catches coronavirus, for example. Meanwhile, studies are being conducted to support claims that herbs such as echinacea and supplements such as Vitamin C and zinc can support boosting the immune system.
Pharmacy teams will always explore these with patients and discuss any health concerns/deficiencies. They are also well-placed to advise on a number of health issues, including advice on how to maintain a healthy diet, stop smoking, ways to improve quality of sleep, and advice on alcohol intake.
Coping with Covid-19
Lastly, while living with covid may soon be our new normal, for many people this still raises a number of questions, including what to do if we catch covid, what products should we be stocking up our home medicine cabinets with, and how to reduce the symptoms and duration of coughs, cold and coronavirus.
Though there currently isn’t a cure for these, regular hand washing – especially when coming in from the outdoors, after using the washroom, and when coughing and sneezing – continues to be one of the best ways to reduce transmission.
There are also some simple remedies you can employ to help relieve common symptoms:
- Staying hydrated is very important. Water is vital to stop dehydration and warm drinks can be comforting and may help to loosen congestion in the nose, throat and chest.
- Nasal irrigation is a great way to wash out the germs that cause cold symptoms and may help you to breathe more easily.
- Getting plenty of rest - our bodies need rest so it can heal and recover and stand the best chance of fighting off disease.
- Warm salt gargles, lozenges, honey – these simple solutions may help relieve sore throats and their associated pain.
- Humidifiers and cool mist vaporisers can help to add moisture in the air around you, which may help relieve congestion.
- Over the counter medications such as pain relief products can relieve symptoms such as high temperature and general aches and pains.
*Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst